September 2020 – Bulletin 215
Variations on the post box – Mick Taylor & Rosemary Turner
Locating telephone kiosks – Mick Taylor
Isaac Wilson, Mitcham philanthropist – Tony Scott
The mystery of the missing container wagons – Bruce Robertson
Haunton’s horse hunt II: Boniface and the bishops – Katie Hawks
Carters Tested Seeds and the Woolworths connection – Norma Cox
and much more
VICE PRESIDENT: Judith Goodman
CHAIR: Keith Penny
BULLETIN No. 215 SEPTEMBER 2020
Tri-ang Railways Container Wagon (see p.10) Photo: Bruce Robertson
Message from the Chairman 2
Tentative Programme November 2020-January 2021 2
Urgent: No Committee = No Society 3
Raymond Kilsby 3
Editor’s Notes 3
Minutes of the 69th Annual General Meeting 2019 4
Variations on the post box – Mick Taylor & Rosemary Turner 6
Locating telephone kiosks – Mick Taylor 7
Isaac Wilson, Mitcham philanthropist – Tony Scott 8
The mystery of the missing container wagons – Bruce Robertson 10
Haunton’s horse hunt part II: Boniface and the bishops – Katie Hawks 11
Virtual Workshop: TANDEM ingot; POWs on Wimbledon Common; Mitcham Mints;
Young’s Brewery Archive; Morden Hall Hospital; Mitcham Bridge; Eisenhower on Parkside? 12
Merton Heritage service: VJ day and Mitcham Fair 13
Carters Tested Seeds and the Woolworths connection – Norma Cox 14
MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIRMAN
TENTATIVE PROGRAMME NOVEMBER 2020- JANUARY 2021
No meetings before November
Saturday 14 November 2.30pm St James’ Church Hall, Merton
Annual General Meeting, followed by short talks
Saturday 12 December 2.30pm St James’ Church Hall, Merton
‘Anthony Sadler and the goings-on in Mitcham Parish’
An illustrated talk by local historian Dr Edward Legon
Saturday 9 January 2.30pm St James’ Church Hall, Merton
‘Forgotten Boys of the Sea: Marine apprentices 1772-1873′
talk by Dr Caroline Withall, Dept of Continuing Education, Oxford University
Visitors are welcome to attend our talks. Entry £2.
St James’ Church Hall is in Martin Way, next to the church (officially in Beaford Grove).
Buses 164 and 413 stop in Martin Way (in both directions) immediately outside.
The church has a tiny car park, but parking in adjacent streets is free.
Note also our Local History Workshops at Wandle Industrial Museum, London Road
Tentative dates are Fridays 20 November 2020 and 15 January 2021 at 2.30pm
A membership renewal form is included with this Bulletin. Only paid-up members may vote at the AGM.
From 1 October 2020 rates are:
Single membership £12 Additional member of same household £5
Full-time student £5 Overseas members by arrangement with the Membership Secretary
If you already pay by Standing Order, please still return the completed renewal form.
The AGM agenda is also enclosed, while the minutes of last year’s AGM and the 2018/19 financial statement
are printed on pages 4-5.
Since our last Bulletin we have lived with increasingly confusing instructions about face coverings and safety,
and passed through a horribly hot week or so. It has also become clear that regulations may change without
much warning, so any attempt to offer a clear way ahead for the Society is always likely to be proved later
and with hindsight to be the wrong move. The church hall that we use is at present closed, even to the church
congregation, and for all church halls there are standing regulations about cleaning, and about leaving a 72
hour gap between different groups of hirers. At present we hope to hold the AGM, followed by short talks, as
advertised below, on Saturday 14 November, if that is by then acceptable to the Church Council, and then to
resume our monthly talks. Workshops at the Wandle Industrial Museum can resume on 20 November, now
that the Society has provided an adequate assessment of risk. I look forward to seeing as many of you as feel
able to attend. If dates have to be changed, or indeed confirmed, all members will receive notification, either
by post or email. The notice will also be on our website. Lastly, let me thank Dave Haunton and Peter Hopkins
for providing, through this Bulletin, such a good advertisement for local history during difficult times.
Would everyone kindly keep our records up to date by sending an email, containing only your name,
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 215 – SEPTEMBER 2020 – PAGE 2
We must have at least twenty members present at the Annual General Meeting
to meet the minimum set in our Constitution.
We must have new members for our Committee,
or that will fall below the number required in the Constitution,
and the Society will not function.
If you think you could offer your services to the Committee
(six meetings a year),
please contact the Secretary.
NO COMMITTEE = NO SOCIETY
We regret to announce the death on 2 May 2020 of Raymond Kilsby, or Ray, as he was generally known. He
was aged 88 and is survived by his wife Pat, whom he married 64 years ago. Ray and Pat, an inseparable couple,
lived in Sanderstead. At a local history event they picked up an MHS Bulletin, thought it sounded an interesting
group with an interesting programme – and promptly joined.
Ray was a long-time member of MHS and between 1997 and 2011 he and Pat organised summer day-outings
by coach for MHS members to places of historic interest over much of southern England. Their destinations
ranged from Kelmscott Manor and Burford in the Cotswolds to Faversham and Quex Park near Margate in
Kent, and at least as far north as Bishops Stortford and Cambridge and as far south as Portsmouth. If all the
coach seats were not filled by MHS members, they invited members of the Sanderstead and Selsdon WEAto
join us. Ray and Pat even organised a four-day residential break at Norwich in 2010, with the combined MHS
and WEA group residing at the university Hall of Residence and visiting places of interest each day. The trips
were meticulously planned, including a full ‘dress rehearsal’ by themselves, and were characterised by packing
a lot into each day. Note that all of these trips were organised and run jointly by Ray and Pat.
Over the years Ray wrote a number of articles in the MHS Bulletin on subjects of historic interest, one being of
a Mitcham man who was awarded the Military Medal for his heroic actions in saving lives in an ammunition
train fire in Wiltshire in January 1946. To celebrate their Ruby wedding anniversary, Ray and Pat took a trip
to India in March 1996, and later that year Ray wrote a comprehensive report in the Bulletin on his visit to the
Railway Museum in New Delhi.
Eventually, age and infirmity took their toll and Ray and Pat could no longer attend MHS meetings. In recognition
of the work that they had done for the Society, both Ray and Pat were made Honorary Members of MHS in
2016. We have recently learnt from Pat that Ray had been in a nursing home for two years and in Mayday (now
Croydon University) Hospital since mid-March. His cremation was held on 26 May under strict lock-down
restrictions. When the regulations are relaxed sufficiently, Pat intends to have a memorial service at their local
Methodist chapel; Merton Historical Society members will be informed of this via the website.
♦ We have not been able to arrange Society meetings or visits for the past few months, so there are no formal
reports to include in this issue of the Bulletin. However we do have a mix of interesting articles (thank you,
contributors) and we have splurged some of the unspent fees to make this number rather more colourful than
♦ We have also parcelled together a number of short research items, or enquiries received, which might have
been discussed in a Real Workshop, and given them respectability by entitling them a ‘Virtual Workshop’.
♦ My call for photos of stallrisers on shopfronts has produced a gratifying number from Wimbledon, but none
at all from Mitcham or Morden. Surely this cannot be a reflection of the real state of affairs?
♦ Finally, your Editor has allowed Katie Hawks to insist on her title to her contribution, despite his warnings
as to likely future accusations of un-academic frivolity from jealous competitors.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 215 – SEPTEMBER 2020 – PAGE 3
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY
MINUTES OF THE 69th ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
HELD 9 NOVEMBER 2019 at 2.30pm
1. Chair’s welcome
2. Apologies for absence: None were received.
3. Acceptance of last year’s AGM Minutes, which were distributed with the September Bulletin: was proposedby Alan Martyn and seconded by Trevor Wallis.
4. There were no matters arising.
5. Chair’s Report – Keith Penny, the Chairman, reported on the activities of the Society and its Committee.
The Committee had considered at some length the matter of subscriptions and what they paid for. It was
generally felt wrong to subsidise meetings from donations and bequests. The Society had received a most
generous donation from a member, and this had invited the question of what we in this historical society
were here for. We had more money than was needed to maintain a level of reserves to meet an emergency.
The Committee had continued to pass on items for which there was no long-term place of storage to other
more suitable owners, either as gifts or as items for sale.
Keith thanked Alan Martyn for his services to the Committee and invited others to join the Committee.
Janet Holdsworth, our Treasurer, had also organised the annual lunch and was hoping to manage more of
this event via email this year. Rosemary Turner had combined taking minutes with keeping track of our
membership records. The Society was legally bound to keep its records of addresses, both postal and email,
up to date.
As publications, the Society had produced Mr Smith’s recollections of growing up in wartime St Helier,
and the translation of the medieval texts about Gilbert, the founder of Merton Priory. Peter Hopkins had
continued to manage our publications and to update our website. The programme of talks had again been
varied and interesting, thanks to the efforts of Bea Oliver, and reports had appeared in the Bulletin, along
with articles on the medieval and the modern. Keith thanked Dave Haunton, the editor, and the many
contributors. The Society had again maintained a stall at the increasingly popular Heritage Day at Morden
Library. Keith invited more people to come to the workshops held at Wandle Industrial Museum.
6. Membership Secretary’s Report – Rosemary Turner reported that we continued to gain new members
through various contact points. Membership at that date was 127. Our request asking members paying by
Standing Orders to return a renewal form so that we could ensure that our records were up to date was not
a complete success. A number of members took up the option of paying by BAC.
Treasurer’s Report: Janet Holdsworth -Janet explained the statement of accounts. Janet was asked why the
insurance was so much less. She explained that membership of BALH included insurance with the same
cover as we previously had.
Acceptance of accounts was proposed by Sarah Gould, seconded by Trevor Wallis and accepted unanimously.
Keith said that we are lucky to have our accounts so clearly set out and thanks also went to Robin Darbyshire,
8. Election of Officers for the coming year: Our Vice President, Judith Goodman, took over the meeting for
Chair – Keith Penny, Vice Chair – Tony Scott, Hon. Secretary/Membership Secretary – Rosemary Turner,
Hon. Treasurer – Janet Holdsworth. Proposed by Celia Bailey, seconded by Mick Taylor and passed
Election of the Hon. Accounts Examiner Robin Darbyshire for the coming year – He was proposed by Dave
Haunton, seconded by Janet Holdsworth and accepted unanimously.
9. Election of Committee for the coming year:
Five members were willing to stand for election – David Luff, Peter Hopkins, Dave Haunton, Bea Oliver
and Stephen Wright.Therebeing no further nominations fromthefloor, they wereproposedby Alan Martyn
and seconded by Sarah Gould.
10. Motion of which 14 days’ notice had been given: None.
11. Any other Business: None.
Meeting closed at 2.55pm. Number in attendance 34.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 215 – SEPTEMBER 2020 – PAGE 4
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 215 – SEPTEMBER 2020 – PAGE 5
NOT QUITE A WORKSHOP: MICK TAYLOR adds to our regrets and
VARIATIONS ON THE POST BOX
After Charlotte Morrison’s talk on Post Boxes ( January 2019, reported in Bulletin
209) I pointed out to Charlotte a type of post box which she hadn’t covered – that
with a stamp vending machine on the side (right). One of these was located in
London Road almost opposite the Nelson pub, but I discovered when I got off the
bus on the way home that the stamp vending machine had been removed. It must
have only been done within the previous couple of weeks as the box was freshly
painted. I knew I should have taken a picture but never thought they would remove
the stamp machine, despite its not being in use today. I would encourage everyone
in the Society that, if you see something of interest or something unusual, take a
photograph and put it the Society archive. Next time you look it may not be there.
Mick also sent us his photographs of
two unused post boxes in Ireland Yard,
Blackfriars (left), and a fine Victorian box
in Kensington High Street (right),
has given us her picture
of some of the variety of
book types once available
from the stamp vending
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 215 – SEPTEMBER 2020 – PAGE 6
MICK TAYLOR remembers the problems of
LOCATING TELEPHONE KIOSKS
Charlotte Morrison’s talk about telephone boxes (Bulletin 209, March 2019, p.9) brought back memories of my
time working for Post Office Telecommunications (POT). I was a Sales Representative in the sales and service
department based on the fourth floor of Tuition House, St Georges Road, Wimbledon, an off shoot of the main
office in Telephone House, 21-33 Worple Road. Telephone kiosks fell under the control of POT, who were
separate from the purely postal side of the Post Office. In 1983 POTbecame British Telecommunications plc
(BT) with a piper logo that, it was said, British Gas had rejected. Telephone box types were known as K1, K2,
etc, the ‘K’, of course, standing for ‘kiosk’.
One of my roles as a Sales Rep was to find a suitable location for a new kiosk,
to re-site an existing kiosk or to remove an existing kiosk. Whilst I only became
involved in a few of these jobs, they were never easy. The site for a new kiosk
had to take into account many things. We would have to look for electricity
service as well as our own cables, whether there was good lighting in the area,
how near to housing was it, and would it obstruct the pavement? One big no,
when I was doing this in 1980-81, was to avoid putting it near a public house or a
bus stop. This was done to avoid it becoming a public toilet or being attacked by
vandals. It was for this last reason that we were normally asked to move a kiosk.
It wasn’t uncommon at the time for young people to gather around a telephone
box making and receiving calls from other boxes. No mobile phones in 1980! It
was also necessary to take into account, when looking at moving a kiosk, how
many of the homes in the area had their own telephone line. This could determine
if a kiosk was moved to a new site or removed completely. Whilst I do not recall
having to get planning permission from the local council, the Post Office would
informlocalresidents. As always with something likethis you would getdifferent
views. It could take several months to provide a new kiosk or move a kiosk. I
never did manage to take one from start to finish in my two years doing the job.
These days you may see new type kiosks near to pubs and bus stops, such as those
near the bus stops and Ganley’s Irish Bar
in Morden. It is today, I imagine, more
about making a profit than providing a service to the public. Telephone kiosks
never made money. They were regularly cleaned, at least two or three times a
week. Any advertising that had been placed in the kiosk would be removed and
thepersonwho placed ittherecouldbefined. Insomeplaces likeSohoin London
the advertising was removed once or twice a day. I am sure you can guess what
type of services they advertised!
Whilst Charlotte didn’t mention police phone boxes I am sure a number of
members will remember them, so I include my photo (right) of one on the Victoria
Embankment, a rather more modern example than Dr Who’s Tardis.
PS Very Recently: The K2 (Kiosk no.2) prototype telephone box, first listed at
Grade II in 1986, has been upgraded to Grade II* in recognition of its status as a
design icon. The first red public telephone box, which has sat outside the Royal
Academy since 1924, was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott for a competition
launched by the Royal Fine Arts Commission for an alternative to the unpopular
concrete K1 style introduced in 1921. The timber K2 prototype was the basis
for the design of telephone boxes across the country. Scott’s original design
was intended to be made of steel and painted silver, with a blue-green interior;
however when it was chosen the General Post Office decided to make it of
cast-iron and painted red.
Website www. Atlasobscura.com tells us: As of 2013, there were just over 200 of
the original K2 kiosks still standing in the country. Though many phone booths
have disappeared, the two historic K2 boxes at Burlington House are not going
anywhere. The one inside the western entrance (left) – in the same spot where it
was originally placed – is Sir Giles’ original prototype, constructed from wood
and lacking the illumination of the ‘Telephone’ sign. The other, in the eastern
entrance, is one of the first cast-iron K2s installed in London.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 215 – SEPTEMBER 2020 – PAGE 7
TONY SCOTT celebrates the activities of
ISAAC WILSON, MITCHAM PHILANTHROPIST
The name of Isaac Wilson is well known in the Mitcham area, since many people will have heard it in connection
with the Wilson Hospital or its successor in title, the Wilson Health Centre. However, the man himself had many
more connections with Mitcham, most of which are considerably lesser known.
Isaac Henry Wilson was born in 1862 in the small village of Milton, a couple of miles east of Brampton,
Cumberland, approximately ten miles east of Carlisle. Isaac was the youngest of four sons of a Cumbrian
farmer . The eldest was Thomas, born in 1849, then came Joseph born in 1851 and John born in about 1855.
Initially, Isaac and his three brothers worked on the farm with their father, then Thomas and Joseph left the
farm to get work as builders, and Isaac and John were sent to become apprenticed to the drapery trade . Isaac
was apprenticed in Bishopwearmouth, near Sunderland, and at the age of 19, the 1881 Census tells us that he
was still in his apprenticeship. By the 1891 Census we find him a draper in Durham and married to Sarah Ann.
The building business
Seeing the progress that their brothers were making, Isaac and John also entered the building trade and came
to London. They joined the Wilson brothers’building firm; the 1901 Census shows Isaac and Sarah Ann living
in Fulham with Isaac’s occupation listed as a builder . The couple moved to Mitcham in 1907, where they took
up residence in Gorringe Park Villa. This was a new house at the
London Road end of what was to become no.2 Gorringe Park
Avenue. Isaac soon purchased the neighbouring Gorringe Park
House and its surrounding parkland, which was on the market,
demolished the mansion house and laid out roads and built houses
on the land . Today the development covers Gorringe Park Avenue,
St Barnabas Road, (originally called Annie Road after his wife),
Stanley Road (named after their son) and Milton Road (named
after the village where Isaac was born) and comprises at least 200
houses. Gorringe Park House had been situated quite close to the
site of the present St Barnabas Church. (Isaac Wilson with R M
Chart, probably the only public photograph of Wilson, right)
In 1921 Isaac and Sarah Ann Wilson moved to The Cedars, a substantial house in Commonside East, Mitcham,
overlooking Mitcham Common and located close to the site of the present Pentlands Close. At around this
period, Isaac Wilson was developing housing on plots of land adjacent to Church Road, Mitcham. These became
Ashtree Avenue, Bank Avenue, Glebe Avenue, Hawthorne Avenue and Oakwood Avenue. Some of the houses
were sold; others were let to tenants.
Housing development in the early years of the 20th century was clearly a lucrative business. It enabled the Wilson
brothers to amass huge fortunes, as shown by the estate of each when they died. The first to die was John in
1918, leaving £110,000, followed in 1926 by Joseph, then aged 75, who left £475,000. Thomas died two years
later, in his 80th year, also leaving several hundred thousand pounds . The sole surviving and youngest brother,
Isaac was a very generous man who gave large sums of money during his lifetime for projects that benefited
the general population of Mitcham.
Mitcham Garden Village
In 1929, Isaac Wilson gave a plot of land
known as Rowcrofts Corner, near Mitcham
Junction railway station, to MitchamGarden
Village Association (registered under the
Companies Act on 27 March 1930) to build
two-storey flats and a few houses for elderly
residents of Mitcham (right). The local firm
of Chart, Son & Reading drew up the design
of the estate; the Wilson Bros. were not the
builders, the job going instead to another
local firm, Charles Higginson. The estate was
officially opened on 20 June 1930, although
construction continued for another two years .
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 215 – SEPTEMBER 2020 – PAGE 8
The Wilson Hospital
In 1926 Isaac Wilson purchased land fronting Cranmer Road to build and endow a Mitcham Cottage Hospital. The
site contained a Tudor farmhouse with substantial additions dating from about 1650; the house being variously
called Rectory House, The Cranmers and Mitcham Villa. It had been the first home of the Cranmer family when
they moved to Mitcham in 1652. The site also contained a substantial Tudor barn and all of this was demolished.
The building cost of the new hospital was £60,000, which was paid by Isaac Wilson, and an endowment to
maintain the hospital was provided by rents from the houses that Isaac had built as the Church Road estate.
The local firm of Chart, Son & Reading designed the hospital and the builders were also a local firm, Stanley
Dale & Co. The foundation stone was laid on 7 January 1928 and Princess Mary, the Princess Royal (daughter
of King George V), opened the hospital, by
then called the Wilson Cottage Hospital, on 7
November 1928. In 1934 Isaac Wilson gave
another £60,000 for the building of two more
wards, doubling the capacity of the hospital.
The Wilson Hospital (right) became part of
the NHS when this was formed in 1947 and
was enlarged yet again . It remained opened
as a small local hospital until about 1980. The
building still remains as the Wilson Health
Cumberland House Hospital
In 1924, Isaac Wilson and his wife left The Cedars and moved into a large house named The Birches which he
had recently built overlooking the historic Mitcham Cricket Green. He also built a smaller house, Brampton,
in Cold Blows footpath just to the side of The Birches for his chauffeur-cum-handyman. Brampton was named
for a small town close to Wilson’s home village in Cumberland.
The Birches had a large amount of land behind it and Isaac Wilson built, at his own expense, a small hospital
behind his home. This was not to be an annex to the Wilson Hospital, but something quite separate. The
foundation stone was laid in 1930 by Sir Kingsley Wood, the Minister
of Health. The building was given the name Cumberland House Hospital
(right) and consisted of just four wards, two downstairs and two upstairs
with a central staircase. Initially Surrey County Council ran the hospital
as a convalescent home for mothers and children but it was absorbed into
the NHS at its formation in 1947. After this, Cumberland House Hospital
became a 56-bed specialist hospital. Three of the wards had beds for 42
adult bronchial cases, and 14 geriatric patients were accommodated in
the remaining ward. After Sir Isaac Wilson’s death in 1944, The Birches
became a Nurses’ Home.
The Cumberland House Hospital closed on 30 November 1979 and was demolished. It was replaced by the
Cumberland Nursing Home, owned by the NHS but operated by Raven Healthcare, and Cumberland House
incorporating the Cumberland Day Centre for the Elderly, run jointly by Merton Mind and Merton Social
Services. Mary Lady Wilson of Rievaulx (widow of the late Prime Minister, Harold Wilson) officially opened
the whole complex on 26 June 1996. The Birches was used by Merton Community Services for patients with
learning difficulties, and Brampton was used as a chiropody clinic. At the rear of The Birches is Birches Close,
a small estate of houses and bungalows built as sheltered housing for adults with learning difficulties.
Over the years since then, the use of some of these buildings has changed but they are still used for health
The final years
One of the early patients in the Wilson Hospital was Isaac’s wife, Sarah Ann, who had a terminal illness. It may
have been her death in 1929 that prompted Isaac to give up a large part of his garden to build the Cumberland
House Hospital. In 1932 Isaac married Miss Elsie Eaves, the first matron of the Wilson Hospital. Isaac Wilson
was knighted in 1939 for services to the local community. He was an elected member of Surrey County
Council and later became a member of Mitcham Borough Council, positions from which he resigned in 1943
on the grounds of ill health. He was also a Justice of the Peace . Isaac Wilson died in the Wilson Hospital on
26 September 1944 aged 82 and was survived by his second wife, Elsie. His estate amounted to £135,000, a
considerable sum at that time .
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 215 – SEPTEMBER 2020 – PAGE 9
BRUCE ROBERTSON investigates, and solves:
THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING CONTAINER WAGONS
I was sorry to read in the June 2020 MHS Bulletin of the death of Richard Lines, the last survivor of Lines
Brothers, the makers of Tri-ang toys and Hornby trains. In December 2018 he very kindly allowed me to phone
him at his house in Folkestone when he explained a mystery to me that the Lines Bros Archivist could not solve.
The background to the mystery: Having lived in Merton Park all my life I developed an interest in the local
railways at an early age and in particular the Wimbledon to West Croydon railway line, which always seemed
so quaint and untouched by modernisation. I attended Birnam Primary School on the corner of Langley Road
and Church Lane and would often go home via the Kingston Road level crossing, and sometimes managed to
persuade the signalman to invite me into his signal-box to help pull the levers that controlled the signals and
points, as well as try my strength at turning the wheel which opened and closed the level crossing gates.
Over the years I have managed to collect many photos and papers on the line and with all this information
hoped one day to make a scalemodel of Merton Park Station to include the old branch off to Tooting. Although
I knew I wouldn’t have the space to cover the line as far as Merton Abbey I thought I might be able to include
the Tri-ang factory siding which was served by the line.
In the 1960s Tri-ang Railways introduced a ‘Container wagon'(R.561) (page1) which consisted of a flat-bed
wagon which carried a navy blue plastic container marked on both sides ‘British Railways, Tri-ang Toys / Pedigree
Prams, Return to Wimbledon SR’. In planning my proposed model of Merton Park Station I decided that these
wagons would be ideal to run in a freight train. So whenever I saw one of these container wagons on a secondhand
stall at a model railway exhibition I would buy it and built up a collection of them to run on the railway.
The penny drops! A couple of years ago
it suddenly dawned on me that I had never
seen one of these container wagons in
real life or in photographs of trains going
through Merton Park, nor, when train
spotting as a youth, at Wimbledon goods
yard, where the containers were supposed
to be returned to. Thinking about it
further, I realised that the facilities at
the Tri-ang factory siding would not be
able to load or unload the containers, as
there was no overhead crane. The siding
consisted of a track next to a loading
platform where conventional railway
vans with side doors were loaded (right,
photo © Bruce Robertson).
Railway containers have end loading doors so would
be very difficult if not impossible to load from a
platform. I asked David Luff if he had seen any of
these container wagons and he duly sent me a photo
from a Tri-ang Railways catalogue which showed
these model wagons when new, with a photograph of
the prototype British Railway Tri-ang container wagon
on which the model was based. I have mislaid this,
but have found a similar photo in the Model Railway
Constructor magazine for August 1963 (left, photo ©
British Railways). The caption reads ‘The prototype
of the Tri-ang container reviewed in our May issue.
Notice that it is mounted on a ‘Conflat’ wagon, and
not in a low-sided wagon, as in the Tri-ang model’. It’s not a good quality photo but the end doors are visible.
The model wagons were also featured in the Tri-ang/Hornby Book of Trains
c.1969. This showed the loaded
model container wagons in a factory siding setting with an overhead gantry and an explanatory text stating
‘At the factory siding ‘Tri-ang’ container wagons are being loaded. These are modelled on real ones which
are used to distribute Pedigree Prams and large Tri-ang Toys’. The question now was, if these wagons existed,
where had they been used?
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 215 – SEPTEMBER 2020 – PAGE 10
Continuing the hunt: A few years ago Penny and I went on a week’s holiday to Ramsgate. On a bus tour round
the coast and back we went past the old Tri-ang/ Hornby Railways factory on the road between Margate and
Ramsgate. The factory had ceased production but they still had an exhibition centre open which displayed all
their products over the years. This covered not only their railway models but all their other products – Airfix
plastic kits, Scalextric track racing cars, Humbrol paints – a nostalgic mix of toys and models from my and
most children’s memories. After dropping Penny off at a large shopping complex nearby for her retail therapy
I went on to the Hornby Exhibition Centre for mine. The displays of toys and models were wonderful and
brought back many happy memories. However, I was disappointed not to see anything on the Tri-ang containers
or their history. I asked the staff at the counter but they knew nothing, but did suggest I contacted the Hornby
Hobbies Ltd. Archivist, Mr P E Oliver. I was advised that he was in his 80s and didn’t use email so I duly sent
him a letter. A few days later Mr Oliver phoned me and said he didn’t know anything about the background
to the Tri-ang containers, but knew a man who probably would and said he had forwarded my letter on to Mr.
Richard Lines, the last of the Lines, who would phone me.
The Mystery Resolved: On 7 December 2018 Richard Lines phoned from his home in Folkestone and left
a message to call him. With a distinct feeling that I was about to talk to toy manufacturing royalty, I phoned
Richard and we had a lovely conversation about my dilemma with the Tri-ang container trucks and did they
ever exist and were they used on railway wagons? He explained that there were originally six containers. They
could be used on flatbed railway trucks as per the model but in practice were put on flatbed lorries in Merton
and used to convey metal sheets for tinplating at their factory in Merthyr Tydfil. The lorries would be driven to
a halfway point in either direction and then swapped over by the drivers who returned to their respective depots.
At last, I had an answer to my mystery containers. So now when I build a model of Merton Park Station, instead
of a train of Tri-ang container wagons going across the ‘Kingston Road’level crossing holding up the traffic,
I’ll have to feature them on flatbed lorries waiting for the gates to open with all the other frustrated drivers!
KATIE HAWKS has fun with
HAUNTON’S HORSE HUNT PART II: BONIFACE AND THE BISHOPS
In the March issue of the MHS Bulletin, David Haunton laid enough TNT to explode permanently the myth
that King John visited Merton Priory on his way to Runnymede, issuing letters of safe conduct to his barons
from there. The confusion lies with the existence of several Mertons here and there, especially back in the days
of non-standardised spelling: the Merton that John visited is now called Merdon. But the plurality of Mertons
also raises questions fifty years later, in the run-up to another collision between king and barons, the Oxford
parliament of 1258.
Boniface of Savoy, Archbishop of Canterbury, summoned his prelates to a council on 6 June at Merton, to
discuss their grievances and work out their response to the worsening situation, including whether, perhaps, to
attend the parliament, or whether it was more sensible to stay away. This is what Sophie Ambler suggested in
her learned monograph on Bishops in the Political Community of England: unlike the actions in 1234 of that
honorary brother of Merton, Edmund of Abingdon, Boniface did not step in with his bishops to remonstrate
with the king and broker peace with the barons: instead, he and (most of) his bishops kept their distance.1
Ambler wrote that ‘prelates of both provinces gathered, on 6 June, at Merton (ten miles north-east of Oxford)
for the ecclesiastical assembly that Boniface had summoned on 19 April… Having concluded the bulk of their
business, the prelates decamped some sixty miles to Westminster in time for the final session of their assembly,
on 8 June.’2 She noted that the king was at Abingdon, awaiting the opening of his parliament on 11 June.
Henry was indeed at Abingdon, but I doubt very much that his prelates were just up the road in a small one-horse3
Oxfordshire village with a church and nothing else. Were I an archbishop wanting to meet my senior clergy
to discuss important matters of the church and realm, I should like my diplomatic corps around me – scribes,
messengers – and I should also need somewhere to accommodate all my clerics. A priory would be ideal. The
13th-century Annals of Burton say that the meeting was at Merton, and that certain articles were agreed at the
meeting there. (These would have needed writing down, copying and disseminating.) The annals do not specify
which Merton; Merton Priory was by far the most famous one, and one that a monastic chronicler would not
have to explain. Ambler noted the brevity of the council – three days – arguing that this host of bishops were a
cohesive and co-operative lot, and their grievances were nothing new: they did not need a lot of time to prepare
their arguments and statements. However, if the prelates were near Bicester on 6 June and then at Westminster
on 8 June, their session would have been intensely quick, as they would only have had a single day to discuss
matters, for the journey from Bicester to Westminster, nearer 70 than 60 miles, would have taken a day.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 215 – SEPTEMBER 2020 – PAGE 11
If we use Mr Haunton’s calculations, these bishops would have travelled at no more than 6 miles per hour
on average, and were probably slower: whereas some prelates were accomplished horsemen (the cantering
Cantilupes, for example), it cannot be assumed that all were. Allowing for a few breaks here and there, this
is a journey of at least 12 hours – possible on a nice, long June day, but it would mean that the whole day of
7 June would have been spent travelling from one venue to another – something which I find hard to imagine
was part of Boniface’s timetable. On the other hand, the seven miles from Merton Priory to Westminster was
a journey of just over an hour, and could have been accomplished on 8 June, leaving plenty of time to sign
papers at Westminster.
The articles produced at the Merton convocation (and copied by the annalist of Burton) were long enough to be
several hours’ worth of copying – and the prelates would have to have agreed with them before their publication.
If they were done by the 8th, then the whole conference must have been quite busy, and taking a day out to travel
would have been foolhardy if not impossible. Some confusion could have arisen because Matthew Paris says that
while this meeting was going on, some bishops were appointed to sound out the exempt abbots – this appears
to have been at Oxford; while the Latin is not particularly clear, it is clear that this was a separate meeting, and
there is nothing to suggest that the convocation was taking place anywhere near Oxford.
We can assert with some certainty, therefore, that the prelates met at Merton Priory, which was used to holding
meetings of church and state, and where a statute was signed from the last time of trouble between the king and
his barons (the Statute of Merton, 1235/6). Boniface and his household were perhaps at Merton the following
week. On 12 June, the Priory granted a corrody of 20 marks per annum to Magister Guy Brahet, a relative
of Hugh Mortimer, the Official (and later Archdeacon) of Canterbury; it also granted an annuity to Walter, a
chaplain to the rector of Little Chart (near Ashford), with the expectation of providing him a benefice. Boniface
was in Sussex on 19 June, when he granted Merton the churches of Patrixbourne and its neighbour Bridge.4
Merton, quite literally on Stane Street, was on the way from London to Chichester, and Boniface might easily
have dropped in to Merton on his way from London.5
Boniface probably did not attend the Oxford parliament – in fact, only a couple of bishops seem to have done
so. The bishops’ absence was probably an attempt not to be forced into taking sides between the king and the
barons, led by Simon de Montfort: priests were avoiding turbulence in the quiet cloisters of Merton Priory.
1 S T Ambler, Bishops in the Political Community of England, 1213-1272 (Oxford, 2017), pp.106-24
2 Ibid., pp.107-8
3 I exaggerate: the Victoria County History says that there were 20 horses.
4 Heales, Records of Merton Priory, Surrey (Oxford, 1898), pp.133-4
5 Ambler, p.109
♦ TANDEM ingot: Peter Hopkins reported that the note in our March Bulletin on Dr Daniel Oliveira’s enquiry
about his mysterious TANDEM ingot prompted a further recollection. A former Tandem employee pointed
out that the letters DE on the ingot show that it was intended for Diesel Engines. Dr Oliveira responded:
‘Thank you very much. Slowly the ball of yarn is turning into a jersey’.
♦ POWs on Wimbledon Common: Susan Littledale, working on the virtual Wimbledon walk for Sarah Gould,
asked ‘Are you able to confirm that there was an Italian POW
camp on the Common, just opposite King’s
College School, at some point during WW2? I have it from a couple of anecdotal sources but nothing official.’
The only source we have on this is Charles Toase’s recent (highly recommended) book An A-Z of
which notes: There was a small camp for prisoners of war on the Common at Southside, opposite Lauriston
Road. Italian and German prisoners were housed in huts, and they worked on the land and in local factories.
At the end of the war, an interrogation camp codenamed ‘Inkpot’ was set up at Queensmere
House (previously Beltane School). It was filled with scientists brought from Germany.
Their expertise was gathered and reports sent to further British industry.
♦ Mitcham Mints: While Keith Penny was going through a folder of Eric Montague’s papers,
this fell out – the packaging (only!) for a complete packet of Mitcham Mints, dated 1970.
♦ Young’s Brewery Archive: Wandle
No.106, Spring 2020,
viewable at www.wandle.org, has an extensive (9 pages) discussion of the history of Young’s
Brewery. This is to celebrate the delivery to Wandsworth Heritage Service of the Young
& Co Archive, now being catalogued. The collection is diverse and includes photographs,
financial records, plans, letters, minutes of board meetings, and audio visual material. It
occupies 50 metres of shelving so cataloguing will take some time.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 215 – SEPTEMBER 2020 – PAGE 12
♦ Morden Hall Hospital :
Barts Health Archives and
Museums tweeted on 28
April this photo, taken inside
Morden Hall during its time
as a Royal London Hospital
convalescent home (right).
The caption reads: ‘Afternoon
rest-time: old masters and
antique furniture were among
the charms of wards and rooms
in this mansion convalescent
The National Trust website
adds: This was a place of
convalescence for the local
community. The Hall continued
to be used as a hospital after
the war [WW1], more particularly for women and children. Mr Hatfeild
financed the facilities and it was run by the Salvation Army. Peter Kingston
remembers being a patient between the wars; he was moved to Morden Hall
for four weeks from London Hospital. ‘I had appendicitis and boys just
didn’t survive it then, I wasn’t supposed to. I started getting better when I
got here as I didn’t have to eat the horrible food we were given at London
♦ Mitcham Bridge to be demolished: Wandle Industrial Museum confirmed
that the bridge marking the historic crossing of the Wandle into Mitcham
is being demolished, following flood damage during repair work last year.
WIM have teamed up with Mitcham’s two civic societies to inform Merton
Council’s designs for a new bridge, including by recognising the Wandle
through public art in new decorative wrought iron railings. Their photo of
the metal plaque affixed to the bridge (right) shows clearly the inscription
which defines ‘Morden 1880 Parish / Mid-River’, with much smaller
letters in the large otherwise blank area reading ‘H.Knight / Morden’, who
presumably cast the plaque.
♦ Eisenhower on Parkside: Susan Littledale asks ‘I am doing some research on Wimbledon during the
Second World War for Sarah Gould from the Merton Heritage Centre. There is a piece of information I’m
unable to find and Sarah has suggested that you may be able to help. It concerns the property somewhere
on Parkside that she believes was used as headquarters and /or accommodation by General Eisenhower for
a brief period during the war. There is nothing on the internet about it.’
Dave Haunton found no mention of Parkside in his books (Richard Milward, Norman Plastow and Charles
Toase on Wimbledon, Antony Beevor on D-Day). He suspects the ‘Eisenhower in Parkside’ rumour is probably
a mistaken memory of seeing him drive past in his staff car, having perhaps visited a doctor or dentist in the
street. Or the Golf Club. As far as we know, during the war, when not at work, Eisenhower lived at Telegraph
Cottage, Warren Road, Combe, now in Kingston upon Thames, 1942-44. He did his planning for D-Day at
Supreme Headquarters AlliedExpeditionary Forces (SHAEF) in Camp Griffiss in Bushy Park, Richmond.
There is now a memorial to the troops who fell on D-Day on the site of his tent.
Merton Heritage Service: VJ Day and Mitcham Fair
The service now has a range of resources, including online displays, archival film, poems, puzzles and craft
activities for two new subjects:
VJ75 (with memories of wartime combatants)
and Mitcham Fair see https://photoarchive.merton.gov.uk/MFair
or follow the respective ‘Latest News’
posts for ‘The 75th anniversary….’ and ‘The Fairground’ on the
Merton Memories homepage: www.merton.gov.uk/memories.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 215 – SEPTEMBER 2020 – PAGE 13
NORMA COX is intrigued by
CARTERS TESTED SEEDS AND THE WOOLWORTHS CONNECTION
I was asked about the location of the Carters Tested Seeds factory near Shannon Corner, by a member of Merton
Historical Society, after my presentation on Shannon Corner and Shannon Limited at the Merton Historical
Society’s members’talks in January 2019. Another member had told me that he had worked for Carters Seeds
and he commented on the coloured swathes of the flowers which were growing at the Carter’s site during the
various seasons. In 2020 after my presentation about ‘A Walk between Four Factory sites in Merton’, a further
member of the Society mentioned that she went to school in the area where the factory sites were and how later
she had worked for Woolworths, where she had sold Carters seeds. I thought it was interesting how three people
had mentioned Carters seeds when Shannon Corner was being discussed, especially as I had not mentioned
them, but then the factory was near to Shannon Corner. I think that the members’ spontaneous comments about
Carters seeds demonstrated how significant the Carters seeds factory was to local people. I myself remember
buying seeds from my local Woolworths when I was younger. I remember the bright almost magical colours of
the flowers illustrated on the seed packets, but I am not sure if they were Carters or Cuthberts seeds, as both of
these seed packets were brightly coloured. I decided to find out where the Carters Seeds factory was located in
Raynes Park and also to see if there was a connection between Woolworths and Carters Seeds.
Carters Seeds relocated to Raynes Park, London SW20, from their small premises in High Holborn, in 1910.
The earliest mention of Carters was in publicity in an 1804 London Directory. The first annual catalogue was
issued in 1837 by James Carter of 288 High Holborn. Apartnership was formed between James Carter, William
Herbert Dunnett and Edward John Beale, which continued until the death of Carter. By 1880 James Carter and
Co had Royal and foreign patrons, such as Queen Victoria, the Prince of Wales, the Sultan of Turkey, the King
of Portugal and the King of Italy. The company Carters Tested Seeds Ltd was registered in 1930 and the Carters
Seeds Raynes Park premises closed in 1970.1 Carters had established themselves as the premier seed company
in Britain and also as one of the leading seed brands globally up until the first half of the twentieth century. By
the 1960s the company’s success went downhill.2
To find where the Carters Tested Seeds station was in Raynes Park, I used the old maps website3 which is a
very useful source to view maps of the past. I used the postcode of the B&Q superstore (KT3 4PT) at Shannon
Corner (once Shannon Ltd) in order to access the maps quickly. I viewed the 1913 O/S County Series Surrey
1: 2,500 map and the seed testing station was shown as a large rectangular building with a circular structure on
the east side, close to West Barnes Lane, on open undeveloped ground. On the map there were also two raised
areas of earth shown by embankment-like markings at the site. The map showed that further north West Barnes
Lane made a sharp eastwards turn as it continued towards Raynes Park station. The map showed that there were
no other large buildings or factories in the area at the time.
The Carters Tested Seeds Company created a range of catalogues for every aspect of their business. The
catalogue titled ‘Vade Mecum’ became known as ‘The Blue Book of Gardening’; it was famed for the advice
it presented to amateur gardeners and by 1937 it contained 415 pages and was a hardback book. The year 1937
was the Coronation year of King George VI and the ‘Blue Book’ had suggestions for growing red, white and
blue flowers.4 In WW2 Carters focused on vegetable growing, even though the 1940 ‘Blue Book’ was a quarter
of its size. In 1946 when paper was rationed the ‘Blue Book’ had only 48 pages. Packed seeds however were
not the most profitable for the company but they were the best known product. Carters Tested Seeds Company
exhibited and won awards with their horticultural gems, which were shown at every major horticultural event.
They had seeds for unusual flowers such as Calceolaria, and for unusual vegetables such as New Zealand
Spinach. Their top quality grass seed was used for the tennis lawns of Wimbledon, the cricket pitches of Lords
and the Oval, and for golf courses, while bulk seeds were bought by farmers.
Carters also sold tools, netting, sheds and flower perfumes as well as offering a gardening design service.
The Raynes Park site had the company’s head office, packaging and despatches, greenhouses, trial gardens and
a rose garden that could be seen from passing trains.5 (See photograph at top of facing page.)
In 1959 the Carters Seeds Company profits fell and by the 1960s Carters could not compete with foreign imports.
Their overseas market had dried up as former colonies developed their own horticultural and agricultural
expertise. By May 1966 Carters directors sold up.6 In the 1970s the firm was sold and merged with rival R&G
Cuthberts, another old established seed merchant, founded in 1797.7 Cuthberts like Carters had struggled in a
difficult market, and the Cuthbert family were bought out in 1930 by a businessman named Clayton Russon,
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 215 – SEPTEMBER 2020 – PAGE 14
Carters Seeds, photographed in 1968 by Bill Rudd (mhs-wjr-77-10)
who kept the name of Cuthberts. During WW2 Mr Russon’s company moved from their base in Hertfordshire
to Langollen, on the advice of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, because the Hertfordshire site was too
close to London and the bombing.8
An interesting fact about the Carters seeds building at Raynes Park came from a paper by Llangollen Museum,
based on the memories of Leslie Potts who had worked at Mr Russon’s seed station at Llangollen from the 1950s.
The seed station which was named Horticultural & Botanical Association Ltd (HBA) was the site of Cuthberts
seeds. Mr Potts stated in the 1970s that when Carters Seeds had been bought out by Cuthberts, ‘At Raynes Park
there was a very elegant four storey building, complete with a frock-coated plus top-hatted commissionaire
at the door’. Mr Potts said that ‘The firm (Carters) was set in the ways of the 1930s and was reluctant to face
changes’; Mr Potts further commented ‘They (Carters) had a printing department (at Raynes Park) of thirty-five
people and were printing their own packets in single colour and hand-making most of their envelopes. Carters
had a range of coloured packets and their Art Series packets were far beyond anything done in Llangollen, often
being printed in fifteen colours. The only problem was that it cost more to print the packages than they sold the
packet seeds for. The printing was changed to four colours and the Art Series was not reprinted’.9 Carters still
functioned at Raynes Park up until 1970 and the ‘Blue Book’ was still obtainable in 1970 from a PO address in
Raynes Park.10 There were many subsequent take-overs of HBA by very big companies such as the Rothchilds.11
Other take-overs were by companies such as the French giants Vilmorin, Limagrain and finally by the company
Suttons Seeds of Torquay. Suttons, being an independent company, allowed the Carter name to be resurrected
and Carters seeds still continue today in the shops of the bargain chain Poundland.12 The Raynes Park site of
Carters Tested Seeds was sold to Merton Council, who cleared the site for building houses. The new streets on
the Carters site were named after famous gardens.
Woolworths was an American company which started in New York USAin 1879. The first branch of Woolworths
to open in Great Britain was in Edwardian Liverpool in 1906 and it sold children’s clothes, stationery and toys.
Woolworths developed and became a famous high street name. In 1910-20 the shops promoted and sold seeds
and bulbs, to brighten the simple backyards of peoples’ homes with a splash of colour. By the 1930s all new
houses had little gardens, and Woolworths went to great lengths to attract new households to their business, by
positioning their stores near the growing estates. There was a Woolworths in Morden which opened in 1933,
very near to the developing Raynes Park and Morden suburbs.13 In the 1930s Woolworths dominated the garden
market and sold millions of packets of seeds by the top named companies of Bees and Carters.14 In 1937 Cuthberts
formed strong links with Woolworths and the first packets of Cuthberts seeds were sold that year. The ‘tuppeny’
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 215 – SEPTEMBER 2020 – PAGE 15
packs of Cuthberts seeds overtook the long established Bees line. ‘Sales were promoted by the bright packaging
of R&G Cuthberts seeds which used the latest printing technology to incorporate a colour photograph of the fully
grown plant’.15 Cuthberts remained with Woolworths until the 1990s.16 Woolworths closed down in 2009.17 In the
years between 1959 and 1976 Cuthberts had taken over Dobies, the mail-order seed company which had started
in Chester in 1894, and also Carters Tested Seeds.18 In 1976 Cuthberts itself was taken over by a Swedish firm.19
There was a connection between Carters Tested
seeds and Woolworths. When Carters Tested
seeds moved their business to the Raynes
Park site in 1910 it
was the first
Raynes Park. By 1930 Carters had become a
limited company and was a famous seed-brand
worldwide. Woolworths, the high street giant,
had from the 1930s sold Carters seeds in their
stores and also positioned their stores very
close to the developing suburbs. Woolworths
had opened a branch in Morden in 1933 and
this was the time of a building boom in Raynes
Park. The Carters factory offered employment
and Woolworths sold products for home and
garden to the new inhabitants of developing
Raynes Park. This would produce good feelings
for nostalgic memories. Cuthberts (who owned
Carters Tested Seeds) was subsequently taken-
over many times but the Cuthberts name
remained with Woolworths until the 1990s
when Woolworths dropped the Cuthberts name
from their own brands. Woolworths finally
closed in 2009. The name and reputation of
the Carters Seeds brand-name however still
survives today and this is most admirable.
Websites accessed 24/05/20 Carters Seeds old packet design. Thanks to Llangollen Museum1 www.merl.reading.ac.uk/collections/carters-tested-seeds-htd
for allowing the use of this image (see Note 8)
4 Colour schemes suggested by Carters. See Note 2
5 Building and gardens seen from the trains. See Note 2
6 Carters directors sell up in May 1966. See Note 2
7 Cuthberts seeds founded in 1797. See Note 2
9 Details of Carters seeds recorded by Cuthberts’ employee Leslie Potts in 1976. See Note 8
10 Carters Blue Book obtained from a PO address at Raynes Park in 1970. See Note 2
11 Take-over of HBA by Rothchilds. See Note 8
12 Take-over of Cuthberts. www.independent.co.uk/property/gardening/seeds-a-packet-history-1259800.html
13 Opening of Woolworths of Morden in 1933. www.soultsretailview.co.uk
14 Woolworths dominates the garden market. www.woolworthsmuseum.co.uk/hg-bloominggood.htm
15 Cuthberts seeds at Woolworths. See Note 14
16 Cuthberts remained with Woolworths until the 1990s. www.thegardentrust.blog/2015/08/01/thats-the-wonder-of-woolies
17 Woolworths closed down. See Note 14
18 Cuthberts took over Dobies and Carters in the years 1959-76. See Note 8
Swedish firm. See Note 12
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MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 215 – SEPTEMBER 2020 – PAGE 16